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article imageOp-Ed: Raw water craze — Is it a rip-off or a lack of public trust?

By Karen Graham     Dec 31, 2017 in Health
San Francisco - A strange new food trend, raw water, has gripped consumers, or at least the ones rich enough to afford to throw away their money on unproven and sometimes ridiculous statements by people who profess to know what they are talking about.
What is raw water? According to adherents of the $6.00 a glass product, it is nothing more than unfiltered and untreated water. That raw water might contain bacteria, parasites, or chemical contaminants goes over the heads of people willing to pay a ridiculous amount of money just to go off the tap water grid.
The New York Times reports “raw water” is now somehow a thing on the West Coast and “other pockets around the country.” In San Francisco, California, one company, Live Water, offers “unfiltered, unsterilized spring water” for $36.99 for a 2.5-gallon container, with refills going for $14.99 a pop.
The Live Water website claims: " Shocking but true- All other filtered and even bottled spring waters are sterilized with UV light, ozone gas, and a sub-micron filter. This is similar to how most juice and dairy products are pasteurized for shelf stability. Unfortunately, this sterilization destroys beneficial sources of minerals and probiotics."
People collect water from a natural spring created by the landslides in a mountain next to a road in...
People collect water from a natural spring created by the landslides in a mountain next to a road in Corozal, west of San Juan, Puerto Rico
Ricardo ARDUENGO, AFP
They go on to talk about the miraculous healing powers of their spring water, including a list of probiotics proven to be exclusive to their water only, claiming they are imperative for optimal physical and mental health.
San Francisco's Rainbow Grocery shift manager Kevin Freeman told the Times. “Bottled water’s controversial. We’ve curtailed our water selection. But this is totally outside that whole realm.” Freeman said, “It has a vaguely mild sweetness, a nice smooth mouthfeel, nothing that overwhelms the flavor profile."
In San Diego, Liquid Eden offers options including “fluoride-free, chlorine-free and a ‘mineral electrolyte alkaline’ drinking water that goes for $2.50 a gallon.” Then there is a startup called Zero Mass Water that offers a $4,500 home system called Source which pulls unfiltered water from the air.
SOURCE taps into the unlimited supply of water vapor in the air  using sunlight to power a renewable...
SOURCE taps into the unlimited supply of water vapor in the air, using sunlight to power a renewable supply of drinking water. Without the waste of bottled or filtered water,
Zero Mass Water
Zero Mass Water was founded in 2014 in Scottsdale, Arizona. The company develops equipment that uses solar energy to produce potable water. Why the NYT put this company in with sellers of "raw water" is questionable because producing water from the air using photovoltaic technologies is a growing business that is deserving of the publicity.
Zero Mass Water offers a renewable supply of water with a panel system that uses sunlight to power panels that pull water vapor from the air. The system adds minerals to optimize health and taste. Their two-panel array is capable of producing 8 to 20 bottles of water a day or they have a reservoir system that makes water that flows into a 30-liter container where it is mineralized for optimal taste, storing up to 120 standard bottles per 2-panel array.
In 2016  over 40 lakes and waterways in California are covered in a toxic algae slime.
In 2016, over 40 lakes and waterways in California are covered in a toxic algae slime.
CA Water Board
What started the raw water movement?
Gizmodo writes the movement was motivated by vague claims that raw water contains probiotics supposedly beneficial to a person's health. Probiotics are microorganisms that are believed to provide health benefits when consumed. The term probiotic is currently used to name ingested microorganisms associated with benefits for humans and animals.
However, any claims, such as reducing gastrointestinal discomfort, improving immune health, relieving constipation, or avoiding the common cold, are not backed by scientific evidence and are prevented as deceptive advertisements in the United States by the Federal Trade Commission. They can also cause bacteria-host interactions and unwanted side effects in rare cases.
Then there is the growing number of people who believe our tap water is contaminated with lead, fluoride, or birth control chemicals. based on the Times’ interview of Live Water chief Mukhande Singh who is quoted as saying: "Tap water? You’re drinking toilet water with birth control drugs in them. Chloramine, and on top of that they’re putting in fluoride. Call me a conspiracy theorist, but it’s a mind-control drug that has no benefit to our dental health.”
The bottom line is actually simple. There is absolutely no guarantee that untreated water is free of pathogens like bacteria, viruses, parasites, or carcinogenic compounds.
In August, Digital Journal reported on the water crisis in southern Asia where over 750 million people in Pakistan, India, Nepal, and Bangladesh are at risk from arsenic poisoning because 60 percent of their groundwater is contaminated with salt and deadly levels of arsenic.
Jake McSigue receives a package of bottled water through the window of his grandma's home on Ja...
Jake McSigue receives a package of bottled water through the window of his grandma's home on January 21, 2016 in Flint, Michigan
Sarah Rice, Getty/AFP/File
An eroded trust of public resources
This begs the question of where people in the U.S. think our raw water is coming from? But it also brings up another issue. Is the public becoming distrustful of our municipal services? We all know what happened in Flynt, Michigan. By December 2015, residents had been drinking water from the Flynt River for 18 months and many of the children in Flynt had elevated lead levels.
And because of global warming, there has been an increase in toxic algae growth, including the contamination of many municipal water reservoirs around the country. Outbreaks of the blue-green algae, a type of bacteria called cyanobacteria, produces a cyanotoxin called microcystin. This toxin has resulted in a number of "Do-Not-Drink" warnings around the country.
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Timothy Caulfield
As Gizmodo says, and I couldn't put it any better: "Hey, though, if the nation’s rich want to hoard all the money that might otherwise be used for things like infrastructure and health care and spend it all on magic Giardia water, there’s very little any of us can do to stop them."
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of DigitalJournal.com
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